I have a student struggling with his shooting rhythm. He will be shooting fine and then his rhythm will slow, sometimes substantially and his arrow scores drop with his rhythm. In working through the problem I mentioned that I have portable metronomes (even one that raps around one ear) and he replied that he had an app on his phone he uses (Kids these days!). He went on to suggest “Maybe using a breathing cycle focus as another way to get back in rhythm?”
This whole topic might be of interest to you coaches (shooting rhythm is a keystone of shooting and scoring consistency) and you may have some good advice for me (Please!) so do not hesitate to “comment” if you have something to contribute.
Here is my response:
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My inclination is that breathing may be too slow and also possibly too variable. Consider that in a rock ’n’ roll band it is the drummer’s job to carry the beat. They may not be totally accurate in doing that but they are usually very consistent (our goal) and I believe they use the music itself (and experience through repetition . . . and structures created in the process of drumming) to find the beat for each song. I am pretty sure they are quite focused on the rhythm most of the time. So, if you can find your rhythm (and I think we established a reasonable zone for it with the stopwatch but we can do that again) and if there is a piece of music that has that rhythm, then when your rhythm seems to falter a little, “hearing” that song in your mind’s ear should be able to get you back on. I really like drum music, so I tend to favor music with strong drum lines (but then I go back to Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich and awesome big band music).
Most people think of drummers/musicians tapping out a rhythm with their feet which is obviously not an option for archers but a number of drummers establish a rhythm with … wait for it … their teeth. By clicking their teeth together, they can establish a learned rhythm that they can hear through bone conduction that no one else could. This is a possible option, not to be used continuously but when help with one’s rhythm is needed.
If your breathing rate is stable no matter how perturbed you get (mine is not) then using a metronome set to some reasonable multiple of that rate should be a way to practice. You can also just turn on the metronome and adjust its rate until you find something that matches your shooting rhythm (it will seem to “fit” or not, you can trust your sense of rhythm). Then some mental routine could be used to get you back in rhythm when you get off (if you’ve played a musical instrument, counting 4/4 time or some such might do it, e.g. counting 4/4 with 1/16th notes is usually done: one ee and duh, two ee and duh, three ee and duh, etc.; with only eighth notes it is one and two and three and four and one … basically find something that “clicks” for you. Music is universal and most people have a great many songs in their heads and on game day you can set your portable music player to loop your tempo song to reinforce it’s rhythm.
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Please comment if you have something to contribute! Steve